The week that was …

Last weekend saw me help shepherd my sister out of the shadows of a broken marriage and into freedom. Freedom from years and seasons of pain and sacrifice, and freedom born out of an indelible cost to her humanity and identity as a woman. A big group of people who love her ferried her out of her grief and into her new life on Saturday night where we celebrated into the night at a swanky bar in town. Having recognised the best thing about this ending is that there is now a new beginning that awaits her. That, and I have my sister back. Back to her maiden name and back to the person she was – not the broken, shackled woman she emerged as … there’s only so much I can share. We’re all little broken and our friends and families are the glue who build us back up to who we once were. That and love, of which she has in spades.

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But just when you think you’re getting on top of one thing, the wind changes and bowls you over. I noticed that my right nostril was a little sore when we were out, but didn’t think much of it until the next morning when I woke up a little swollen across the bridge of my nose. I hazarded a guess and thought I might have cellulitis – an infection in the skin – so I called my transplant consultant and he said to pack a bag and come to clinic the next day. It was a swift response once they saw me. After blood tests, I ended up having the worlds fastest sinus CT scan and was diagnosed with having septic sinuses. So yeah, a touch of septicaemia due to a slightly diabolical sinus infection (thanks Cystic Fibrosis – you just give, give, give …) I was taken up to ICU for a central venous (CV) line to be inserted into my jugular so powerful intravenous antibiotics could be started as soon as possible so the infection wouldn’t spread to my places like my eyes or my brain. Here was my view for the afternoon. Whoever invented the heated blanket box needs a Nobel prize.

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It was tough going. The doctor who performed the procedure was determined not to use a scalpel on my ‘soft and lovely’ skin, and because he had to push in 14cm of tubing through my skin and into my jugular vein, he pushed as though he was doing CPR on my collarbone. My chest was pushed into the bed so brutally and it really hurt me (there’s only so much local anaesthetic can do). While I was waiting for a bed on the ward, intravenous vancomycin and meropenem commenced. I’m also on oral ciprofloxacin because IV cipro totally incapacitates me and tears my gut to shreds.

I was in a lot of pain from my nose as well as having a tube shoved into my chest, so I was given some pain killers for the night. And it was one of those nights where I had a nurse who just should not have gone into nursing. On Tuesday, I woke up looking like I’d been in a cage fight and I now know what it feels like to have my nose broken. It’s really quite fucking excruciating and I have a newfound respect for boxers and other sportspeople who have their faces regularly rearranged. Here I am looking a little different to what I was on Saturday night …

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So I need sinus surgery and I need it soon. The last time I had surgery,  my ENT specialist said that they were scraping the base of my skull and that removing the actual infection (the snot) was like pulling out chewing gum.

And so the week went on. Yesterday was my graduation from my pastoral care training, but I was too ill to go. My beautiful group kept me updated with photos and videos which made me feel like I was with them. I was so disappointed not being with them as we officially became hospital chaplains, but when your body shuts down you have to listen (even if it is telling you to forget about your antibiotics, get in a taxi and go to your graduation).

The universe works in remarkable ways. I’ve always found that with pain comes great beauty. Thousands of words of poetry have poured out of me and I’ve come up with a humdinger of an idea for a poem that involves water. Of course.

After coming home today, and then having to return to hospital twice, the levy finally broke. Today was tough and I’m simply worn down from pain and the onslaught of infection in my body. My white cell count is up and the gravity of the week had me drowning. I think a little piece of me broke. I can’t even do a solid shit (and won’t for at least another ten days), I got my period yesterday, the skin where my CV line is is red and angry and my belly is bruised from clexane injections to prevent blood clots, so … I took a deep breath, put Xerxes, HWV 40: IV. Largo (Ombra mai fù) on repeat, had a long, restorative shower and redressed my CV line. This is how it looks sans adhesive dressing. The four stitches are to keep the line anchored so it doesn’t tear out of my jugular. Tears are optional.

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This week has left me feeling crestfallen. I got through the Harry Potter book where Dumbledore dies and the nurses looking after me thought I was howling in pain, but it was more existential – observational even. It’s odd because I’m so used to crying with joy – not immense sadness. Out of the mire of pain comes a stockpile of words – more than I even need, so after my blue moon ritual tonight I’ll hook myself up to my IV’s, put words down – both gently and ferociously – and feel safe in the knowledge that tomorrow is a new day.

25 thoughts on “The week that was …

    1. There is only one person I know who handles shit like you CJM one super creative super beautiful super brave and a super sister. Congratulations on your graduation your support and your challenging week. You rock in more ways than I can express xxx love jennyg

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      1. Thanks JG 🙂 We will get there, and I hope to share a cuppa with you when you’re back from sailing – lots of news to tell you! Big love to you and He Who Hums XO

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    2. It’s been an interesting one, but now I’m through the veil that was like walking through molasses. Thanks for your lovely words, Ana – life will resume with vigour ASAP! XO

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  1. Loveliness, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through this week. Far out. On the other hand, I’m so happy for Nicki and your whole family. You’ve got your sister back. What an incredible relief for you all. Thinking of you always. xxxx

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    1. Hey beautiful 🙂 So lovely to hear from you – we must have a phone chat ASAP because you’ve been on my mind. I have my sister back, I have Mum and Dad, friends like you and the universe has my back. Big love XO

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  2. So sorry to hear about all these setbacks and mising your graduation, pain, doing bouts with all of this crap. You are strong but my goodness, you are really going through the mill and I send you my love. Pleased to catch up with you again as I’ve had trouble keeping up lately. My laptop is needing repair and the desktop feels like it’s in the Antartic so I don’t get on every night. Bless you and I hope the infection goes soon. Wish your sister all the bes. She is very brave making the break but no doubt has alot of adjusting to do Love and blessings to you both xx Rowena

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    1. Darling Rowena – thank you for your beautiful words. Yes, life can be shit once in a while, but it’s important to put things into perspective as you well know 🙂 I hope your lappy and desktop start behaving (I find it so frustrating when they’re slow or frozen …) My sister certainly is a brave one, but she has the world behind her. Big love to you XO

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  3. I hope you start feeling well sooner rather than later. I love your words. You are very good at writing. Please give my love to Nikki. She is a special girl. Hazel

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    1. Thanks Hazel 🙂 I’m feeling a little brighter today, which is a massive step up from yesterday. I will pass on your love to Nik – thank you so much XO

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  4. Carly you are an amazing and strong woman, I hope you are healing well. You deal with so much crap in one week that most of us would not handle in a life time. May the coming weeks be better for you, you write so well I felt your pain and frustration. Blessings to you xxx. Kath.

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    1. Right back at you, Kath 🙂 These drugs are making me sick as well, which isn’t helping, but I’ll be on the med before I know it. Thanks for your lovely, kind words and for checking in on me. Lots of love XO

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      1. Oh Carly that must be hard on top of everything else, I hope each day gets better and better. xxxx My sister too has just moved back in with my mum and its so nice to have her around, even though its under sad circumstances, she had to leave her marriage too. I have six gorgeous sisters, each so different and so special. So I understand how good it is when you get together.

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  5. Oh Carly!!!!!!! Something made me check my WordPress today and I saw this blog. Sending you so much love and strength. Keep the sunshine on your face and the warmth will wrap around your heart. Miss u. Love to Nikki too xxxxx

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    1. Beautiful Sare! We seem to have this strange ESP thing happening. I miss you too and dream of the day when we see each other again. Nikki is going great guns in all things love and life! Big love to you XO

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